Gluten Free Cake and Nutella Hot Chocolate

First off: Merry Christmas!!! We had an absolutely wonderful Christmas; just the right amount of gifts without going overboard and the boys were excited and grateful for all of their gifts this morning. This will be John’s first Christmas of memory I’m sure. It was priceless to watch his little eyes take it all in at the sight of the tree and presents. As my parents did, we didn’t put anything under it until Christmas Eve. So magical.

tree

The teepee was a much needed replacement to their tent that went to rubbish a few months ago. I found this lady, Lovely Fawn, at the Hickam Craft Fair. You pick your fabric for the front, the other three sides are canvas; my favorite part is that it’s easy to fold, something our old tent was not. She has an etsy shop and delivers on island. I highly recommend her if you’re in the market. 

Last night we went to Christmas Eve service, where Brendon belted out a few tunes from center stage. Literally. And he most definitely is not a natural born singer. Sad to say. Luckily, he has other talents. I left trying to wrap my mind around the impression Vance and I give off. Do we seem glaringly unchurched? or Maybe strictly holiday attenders? Not that it bothers me all that much, since we do miss often for conflicting commitments, but it strikes me each holiday when people say “Thanks for visiting US” or like last night, Carol practically dove out into the aisle at me to introduce herself, wondering if we went to church there. Vance thought I knew her by the bee line she made to get to me. I’d like to think it was my new purse she was hoping to get a better look at, but honestly, I think it’s me. I guess it’s such a contradiction to those who know me from my youth. I was the picture of “churchy”; largely due to constant verbal evangelizing no doubt.

bedtime monkeys

Their new Christmas jammies.  This WAS the best photo. 

At any rate, what is Christmas without food?  Sweets top our list of holiday fare, which lead to two new experiments. I know, I just can’t help myself. Nutella Hot Chocolate and Gluten Free Cake.

hot chocolate

First off Nutella Hot Chocolate, recipe found here, was fantastic! I added a heavy dose of ceylon cinnamon and it tasted very reminiscent of the Mexican hot chocolate wedges, which the commissary here does not carry.

gf cake slice

As for the gluten free cake…. it was okay. Not terrible, but not great either. It was really crumbly and had an almost grainy sandy texture. I used a tried and true, Red Velvet Cake recipe, found here, so it was definitely the flour change. Can’t say I do that again, although the boys did eat it without complaints. For the frosting, I use a modified cream cheese frosting, adding more butter than most call for. I find it a better balance on the cream cheese flavor.

Cream Cheese Frosting: 

1 stick butter
8oz cream cheese
5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

And now, the cake is paying me back by keeping John awake. He’s stationed at his door crying and saying, “You eeep me!!” over and over. I guess I better go see if I can sooth his sugared soul.

 

Sugar Cookie Success

Christmas almost got away without us making Sugar Cookies. Shame the thought! I quickly whipped up a batch last night for baking and decorating today. After my two failed cookie attempts from the exchange last week, there was no way I was using the “new” recipe from last year, which somehow tasted like flour and nothing else. No more experimenting on cookies for 2014! I went back to my tried and true, uber delicious sugar cookies. Hopefully the Thompson’s won’t mind me posting it here on my little ‘ol blog.

christmas craft

This was our Christmas Craft from Monday. They each cut their own trees…can you tell which tree belongs to which boy?

Thompson Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp soda
3 1/2 cups Flour
Mix ingredients throughly. The dough will be really loose and sticky, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before rolling out for cookie cutters. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Royal Icing (combination of multiple web sources):
3 egg whites (pasteurized)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
4 cups powdered sugar
Combine egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Add remaining ingredients gradually and mix on low speed until incorporated and shiny. Turn speed to high and beat until mixture forms stiff glossy peaks. Approx. 5-7 minutes. Add food coloring. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

sugar cookies

Brendon was a little annoyed at the shapes. He wanted a Gingerbread House shaped one, which I don’t own. Ha! I bought these two years ago and have never used them. I thought they turned out pretty cute. And mighty tasty too!

Today was also a great moment of clarity for me. Before school started and I was pushing the boys on a regular basis, I loathed the double stroller and would easily get into my “need to get this run OVER!” mood. Reluctant to let the boys do any running. The past two mornings I have taken them for a run first thing and let them run as much as they desire. It helped my focus; these runs are for all of us, not just me! The boys are definitely better behaved after a morning of exercise. As am I. The cookies were our reward.

morning run

The boys, especially Brendon, have really taken to running. Which is good, since I’m out of practice pushing 70+ pounds on a regular basis. So far he’s been able to run 1.37 miles without stopping. We’re working up to a 5k (3miles).